Cover Image: For the Love of the Bard

For the Love of the Bard

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Member Reviews

Will there be love in FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD, Ms. Martin's spirited ode to  Shakespeare? Ridiculously cute Miranda Barnes is a famous young adult writer who goes home to enjoy her town's annual Shakespearean festival and to finish her YA fantasy book. However, her mom has serious health issues and Miranda helps out. Plus, Miranda bumps into Adam, the boy who broke her heart in school. Then, she is roped into directing a festival play. Geesh! What happens next?

Problems arise and Miranda does her best to deal with it. Miranda needs to work on her book, but with issues popping up all over the place, time is really scarce. Then, Adam, a veterinarian who is a handsome hunk, reenters her life. They go together like a hot fudge sundae delight! Adam is absolutely nuts about her dog too.  Miranda is cautious though, should she risk her heart again? Will they love each other with so much of their heart that none is left to protest, as Shakespeare said?

FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD is all things Shakespeare with a dollop of romance and tender heart. Witty repartee, offbeat, enjoyable characters, obstacles galore, and an enchanting plot with an adorable dog, won over my heart big time! Miranda searches for happiness while dealing with life's problems. I wondered if her and Adam would ever find their way to love. Ms. Martin uniquely handles difficulties Shakespearean style. Wait until you see what happens! Oh my gosh, what utter chaos! FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD is uniquely rom-commish, I guarantee!
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our and a Half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒
For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin was exactly the book I needed.  It’s fun, light, and nerdy, and I really enjoyed it.  

Miranda Barnes co-owns a  literary agency with her best friend Ian in Boston.  She is called home to her Shakespeare-obsessed hometown to help with the summer festivals and her mother ropes her into directing one of the three plays the town is presenting, Twelfth Night.  Miranda has been suffering from writer's block as she’s been struggling to finish the next installment of her popular YA fantasy series.  

Miranda faces many issues when back in Bards Rest, and one of them is the handsome veterinarian, Adam, who also stood her up at her senior prom.  And it doesn’t help that her dog, Puck, adores Adam.  Between directing the play, dealing with her mother’s health scare, trying to finish up her book, and dealing with her sisters, Miranda doesn’t have time for Adam anyway.  But, for some reason, she can’t avoid him, until she doesn’t want to avoid him!  

There is a lot going on in this book.  A lot of action and dialogue, which made for a fast read.  The characters are a lot of fun. I love a town full of quirky characters, and Bards Rest is full of them.  Adam is a veterinarian, and he lives with a pig named Lucille! And Miranda’s dog, Puck is simply adorable too, but Lucille and Puck together make for a lot of laughs.  

Humor, quirky characters, witty dialogue. This book has it all.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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There were so many plot threads going on in this book and yet I was bored almost the entire time. The pacing absolutely drags, and this probably should have been a shorter book.

The Shakespearean Stars Hollow vibe of the town was fun at first but quickly grated on me, largely because of the incredibly dumb linguistic quirk of saying things like "Bard, this is annoying" or "for Bard's sake." Cringeworthy tbh.

I wish this had been a straight up women's fiction novel because the "author returns to her quirky hometown to reclaim her writing mojo while she helps her ailing mother with a Shakespeare festival" concept is solid but unfortunately the focus in this book is spread so thin amongst all the subplots that none of them feel as impactful as they could have been. The romance in particular suffers the most, which is frustrating given that this book is supposed to be A Romance.
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This was very cute! I did enjoy reading the mother-daughter. As a former theater kid, I was drawn to the setting and that aspect was fun. However, I was expecting a romance and this is women's fiction. (Still liked it though!)
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I'd like to thank the publisher, Berkley, and NetGalley for allowing me a chance at reading this book. 

Yikes on a bike. That's what I have to say. The writing was very juvenile and the characters had a lot of quotes or references. I couldn't take it. It was a while before I came in contact with the male love interest. 

This was not a book I picked out but a book that was provided to me by the publisher. I chose to download because it had Shakespeare and enemies to lovers. I just couldn't find out why exactly they were enemies to really begin with.
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This story was a great romance from a debut author. Miranda Barnes is an author of a very popular YA fantasy series who is having trouble writing the next book. She goes home for the summer to Bard's Rest - a town obsessed with Shakespeare - to try to recapture her writing mojo. 

However, there are many distractions. Her mother who is directing the annual festival has discovered a lump on her breast and seems more interested in the fate of the festival than her own health which greatly disturbs her husband and three daughters. When Miranda offers to help lighten her mother's load, she finds herself directing a production of Twelfth Night and trying to stay away from the handsome veterinarian/set designer who broke her heart when she was in high school. 

Adam Winters is back in town running his father's veterinary clinic while his father recovers from a heart attack and surgery. He very much wants to have another chance with Miranda if she can be convinced that he is a changed man who can be trusted with her heart. 

The story has great dialog and a fascinating setting. I loved the family relationships and the rekindled romance between Miranda and Adam. There are even great pets since Miranda has a rescue dog named Puck who is an "indiscriminate eater", and Adam has a rescue pig named Lucille. 

I can't wait for more from this fresh new voice.
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Thank you for an advanced copy of this book!

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: June 28, 2022

If you're an animal lover like me, you will need to hear only a short review of this book to pique your interest: HOT gilded small town vet. Run, don't walk, to pick this one up. ☺️ All my hot animal doctor fantasies are bottled up in this book, and they can be yours too, if you purchase For the Love of the Bard. Now, for those of you who are not as basic as I am and possibly aren't still nursing your Sam Shepherd in Baby Boom crush from the early 1990s, read on.

I enjoyed so many elements of this book. First and foremost, yes, I liked the two main characters a lot: Miranda and Adam. Miranda has spunk, humor, and likability all rolled into one fabulous character. Plus, she's a YA fantasy author. Hello dream job! Adam is gilded and is a DVM (hello, dream man!), and he has just enough imperfections (ie, occasional emotional shortcomings) to make him believable. I was practically salivating over Adam with his shirtsleeves rolled up doing anything in this book. Jessica Martin knows my type, and she wrote it as Adam in this story. I loved the two of them together, especially since it is a second chance love. 

I also really enjoyed the side characters in this book, especially Miranda's two sisters Portia and Cordy. I'm a sucker for sister dynamics, and the three of them presented like three of Shakespeare's leading ladies (a trilogy, perhaps?). Miranda's family and her best friend Ian are also lol funny at times, and I felt Miranda's frustration with her mother's reluctance to focus on her health. 

And, this is just a cool town. I want to throw myself into the pages of the book and just live there year around. The festival, the people, the atmosphere...I love it!

My only complaints are the book felt like it dragged a little towards the end...I feel like 50 pages could have been edited out easily. Also,  book should have some trigger warnings for cancer diagnosis, parental illness, etc. I was completely unprepared for that storyline, and that subject is a major trigger for me. I still would have read the book, but I would have been more informed about the side story that was really more of a major plot point.

Overall, though, I really liked this book! I read it in about a day and a half, so I was definitely hooked! I can't wait to read more by this author.
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When it comes to second chances, pups and then throw in a cute Veterinarian - I'm ready to dive in! For the Love of the Bard is a cute, fun and romantic theatric read. Miranda Barnes is a fun heroine who has a secret that only her family and close friend knows about. 

The characters talk about how they feel like they're back in high school as they're brought back to their hometown, and it was nice to see them mature and work through their differences this time around, in a way that did not happen back when they first knew each other. And I love the dynamic of the Barnes family!
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As someone who loves Summer Stock and any opportunity to engage in Theatre things this book was amazing! It was my first book by the author, and I really enjoyed her writing and engaging story.  The setting of the story was everything I wanted and more when you give me a title like For the Love of the Bard .  Small town theatre can be a hotbed of fun and drama. The nods to Shakespeare were so wonderful.. especially for this bardolator. 

Miranda has return home to Bard's Rest with the purpose of finishing her YA Novel. Miranda’s mom has other ideas, roping her into helping with the town’s centennial celebration of their Shakespeare Festival.  Miranda of course takes on way more than she should and is in the mix of it she reconnects with an old flame.  I also love how she really strengthens her relationship with her sisters. I enjoyed that connections she makes with her hometown after being gone for so long. I love the coming home vibes and finding more than when you left.  
Adam- what to say about Adam.  Here is where some of my hang ups come in this story.  I wanted more of a character arc for him. He should have repented more. He should have been begging. He did Miranda dirty.    I wanted more of the romance between Miranda and Adam.  This friendship that sparks and slowly burns.  Their history is very complicated and somewhat messy. 
But this story wasn’t about their relationship as much as it was about Miranda’s journey.  
The importance of family that is shown and themed through out the book by using Miranda’s mother’s heath issues was handled with such grace and care.  I also thing that the journey to self-love that Miranda experiences was so on point and added so much to the story.  
If you are looking for a good story with romantic elements, you should totally read this.  But if you are looking for a true romance this is not it. The title was sold to me as being a romance it isn’t.  This is women’s fiction with romantic elements. I would have liked it more if it was sold to me that way. When reading romance, I want the relationship to be centered stage.  This book really focused on Miranda and her journey which is fine but that isn’t romance.  This is one of those times I got duped.
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For the Love of the Bard is such a whimsical read. While more women’s fiction I think than romance, it follows literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes as she returns to her Shakespeare-themed small town home. This is a story of family and sisterhood and self and it was just quirky and fun. I had some trouble connecting to Miranda I think at times—she was a great lead but just sometimes a little too sarcastic in a way that I didn’t love. I loved her connection with her family though. Her sisters and her have such a wonderful relationship and I loved her candor with her parents. This was just a witty, smart read. And I loved the romantic lead Adam. It’s a second chance romance, which is a favorite trope of mine, and I just thought Adam was charming and genuine. I did want more time out of their romance too though. They had great chemistry. And I loved the Shakespeare-themed town! Overall a fun read!
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This book started out very strong. I loved the strong, sassy, feminist qualities of the main character and the family dynamics between the sisters and the parents. Also, the sweet pupper. Who is a good boy?! 

The love interest however, didn't sizzle. For me, his personality felt flat. I wish there had been more development of the backstory early on and more discussion on why they were "enemies." It was an awkward tension that was one sided. I think it would have been great to have an alternate POV and get his side of the story. 

Despite that, I will definitely recommend this one to others! It had a lot of good things.
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Thank you Berkley Publishing for my copy! All thoughts are my own. 

I was so ready for this Shakespearean Summer RomCom. It had a lot of elements I loved but it was executed as well as I hoped. However, if you’re looking for something easy and love Shakespeare in the Park, I think this will be a breezy summer read for a lot of people. It has a small town full of eclectic characters, a sweet love story, and a noble character journey. 


“To go for it or not to go for it? That is the question when two former high school flames return to their Shakespeare-obsessed hometown for a summer of theater and unexpected romance, in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jessica Martin.Literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes rolls into her hometown of Bard’s Rest with one goal in mind: to spend the summer finally finishing her YA novel, the next installment in her bestselling fantasy series. Yet Miranda’s mother, deep in the planning stages for the centennial of the town’s beloved annual Shakespeare festival, has other ideas.  Before you can say “all’s fair in love and war,” Miranda is cornered into directing Twelfth Night—while simultaneously scrambling to finish her book, navigating a family health scare, and doing her best to avoid the guy who broke her heart on prom night. When it comes to Adam, the veterinarian with a talent for set design and an infuriating knack for winning over Miranda’s dog, the lady doth protest too much. As any Shakespeare lovers knows, the course of true love never did run smooth, and soon Miranda realizes she’ll have to decide whether to trust Adam with her heart again.” —NetGalley

What I Liked: 

The Concept—As an actor, I was so excited for a book that took on Shakespeare. Shakespeare in the Park is a staple all over the world during the summer and I was thrilled to see it brought to life in a fictional setting. 

The References—So many funny and clever Shakespeare references. I feel like it gave Stratford upon Avon a run for its money. 

The Setting—I’ve been digging small town Romance as of late and the setting was perfectly summery. It has some Well Met vibes where the entire town comes together for this summer event. 

Ian—IAN WAS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER. I need more of him! 

What Didn’t Work: 

Too Much Going on—There were SO many different plot points happening that I didn’t really feel like we got to delve into them. Miranda’s acting career and history, her writing, the love story, reconciling with her sister’s, her mother’s health…I wish it had been narrowed down to 2 or 3. 

Dialogue Heavy—While I love dialogue, there was A LOT in this book that didn’t help move the plot forward. Any big conversations between characters felt like it dragged the story backwards instead of forwards. 

Character Authenticity: 3/5

Steam Rating: 0/5 (closed door)

Overall Rating: 3/5

Contenting Warnings:

cancer, sick parent
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy for review. All opinions are my own. 

This was so cute! I don’t normally like second chance romances, but this was so well done. I liked Adam from the very start; honestly he was precious. I loved Miranda too; I especially loved that she wrote a YA series about faeries! 
All the  Shakespearean quips and references were so great and it blended into the story very well. I liked how pretty much everyone in the story acted like adults and addressed issues head-on and talked out problems (ok except at the very end).
There was just 1 steamy scene (could definitely have done more). And we had to wait until the very last page of the epilogue for the HEA which had me sweating! 

Very solid 3.5-3.75 stars
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I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this book, but once I got settled in after a few chapters and allowed myself to revel in this unabashedly cheesy, nerdy over-the-top hectic romp, it was smooth sailing! I'm not enough of a Shakespeare expert to claim to have understood every (even) passing reference, but the ones I did understand and appreciate were fun. I wasn't expecting to enjoy and care about all the characters as much as I did, which made it easier to allow a wide creative license to some of this book's more crazy happenings. Even then it did seem like way too much was on the protagonist, Miranda's plate and we never really got a chance to settle into each (individually) intense issue. Oh and Puck and his new bestie (I can't say more or it will be a spoiler) stole the show and I wish we'd seen more of them. I also appreciate a second-chance romance where the characters actually communicate right off the bat instead of skirting around the issue or avoiding it altogether until it all blows up in their faces, and (mostly) continue to communicate.
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BOOK REVIEW: For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin
Rating: 3/5 stars
First, I would like to thank NetGalley, Berkely Publishing Group, and Jessica Martin for the advanced copy of this book in exchnage for an honest review. 
I was really excited to read this book because while I wouldn't call myself a Shakespeare superfan, I do enjoy his work. I did not understand all of the references. But, I understood a good portion of them and really enjoyed that aspect of the book. If you are a Shakespeare fan, this book is for you. It is not a retelling, but there are so many references in the Shakespeare obsessed small town, that you will enjoy it.
The book had the small town romance trope. But, what it didn't have was the miscommunication trope which was surprising to me because I really thought that's where the book was headed. I was delighted by this, because I HATE the miscommunication trope.
The main character in the book is a famous YA fantasy author who writes under a pseudonym. The only people who know her idnetity are her family memebers and best friend. We see her struggle with readers being disappointed in her latest book release and it causing the MC to be worried about finishing her book series. I feel like we don't normally get to see this side of authors and it was something different to read about. It made authors in general seem more human and I enjoyed reading about this struggle and seeing the MC overcome it.
However, I did find the book to be rather long. I felt that a portion of it could have been cut out in order to move the story along faster or make it more fast-paced. There were a few parts of the book where I felt like I was reading the same conversation over and over again. It is for this reason that I am rating the book 3 stars.
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For the Love of the Bard is a fantastic contemporary romance by Jessica Martin. I’m a big fan of William Shakespeare and have read over two dozen of his plays and many of his sonnets, so, as soon as I saw the title, I knew I had to read this one. The story takes place in a charming New England town called Bard’s Rest, which has an annual Shakespeare festival. Can this be a real place in New England, please? I would love to visit this charming small town during festival season. It sounds like so much fun, and I love how the whole town gets into it.

Miranda Barnes, a writer and literary agent, has returned home to finish her novel when she gets roped into helping with the festival. She also comes face-to-face with Adam, the handsome vet who broke her heart years ago. Between finishing her book, preparing for the festival, dealing with a family member’s health issues, and facing her feelings for her first love, Miranda has a lot on her plate.

The story is a perfect balance of light and serious, with some touching moments that brought a tear to my eye balanced amid comical moments that had me laughing out loud. And I enjoyed the messages about forgiveness, sisterhood, friendship, family, career paths, and more. The characters are all dynamically developed and relatable, especially Miranda, and they deal with issues that many people face. Complicated sibling relationships, aging parents, opening up to love, dealing with feelings of inadequacy – there are many aspects of the story that are realistic and easy to connect with.

Miranda and Adam have a complicated second-chance romance, and it’s clear there is unfinished business between the two. A prom night betrayal that they never really discussed is a huge obstacle for them to overcome, and Miranda is especially hesitant to let Adam get too close. As they work and spend time together, they both learn that “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and they must decide if their feelings are worth exploring. Adam and Miranda have great chemistry, even though so much stands in their way, and I love how they slowly get to know each other again. It’s interesting to see how they deal with their fears, resentments, guilt, and growing feelings for each other.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is the literary references. They appeal so much to my literary-loving heart, especially the Shakespearean references, which are in abundance. From the town festival to the characters’ names to the store names, to Miranda’s Shakespearean-esque exclamations, the Bard’s influence knows no bounds, and it’s pretty fantastic. I love how much this community embraces Shakespeare, theatre, and literature in general, and the author’s knowledge and admiration of the classics are fantastic. The scene when the men start hurling Shakespearean insults is hilarious, and the little ways in which the book pays homage to the Bard speaks to the former English teacher in me.

I thought this was a great read. It has wonderful characters, small-town charm, fantastic literary references, great messages, an adorable dog, and a unique romance. Thanks so much to Berkley Books for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
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"To go for it or not to go for it?" If you're asking that question after picking up For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin, let me tell you now: go for it!
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"To go for it or not to go for it? That is the question when two former high school flames return to their Shakespeare-obsessed hometown for a summer of theater and unexpected romance, in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jessica Martin.

Literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes rolls into her hometown of Bard’s Rest with one goal in mind: to spend the summer finally finishing her YA novel, the next installment in her bestselling fantasy series. Yet Miranda’s mother, deep in the planning stages for the centennial of the town’s beloved annual Shakespeare festival, has other ideas.

Before you can say "all’s fair in love and war," Miranda is cornered into directing Twelfth Night - while simultaneously scrambling to finish her book, navigating a family health scare, and doing her best to avoid the guy who broke her heart on prom night.

When it comes to Adam, the veterinarian with a talent for set design and an infuriating knack for winning over Miranda’s dog, the lady doth protest too much. As any Shakespeare lovers knows, the course of true love never did run smooth, and soon Miranda realizes she’ll have to decide whether to trust Adam with her heart again."

A rom-com reminiscent of Slings and Arrows!
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Being a huge Shakespeare fan, I really wanted to love this, but sadly it just didnt do anything for me. It felt too teenage-y in its language and I just switched off. Not for me, it couldnt hold my attention.
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The book was much more emotional than I thought. There's a lot going on in Miranda's life and I felt a strong connection from the get-go. I was expecting more of a light romance in a quaint small town, but there's serious issues including a serious illness of a parent. Miranda and Adam were a good couple that I wanted to root for, but they didn't blow me away. I think maybe a little more development of their romance would've made me more invested. The relationships with her family and the Shakespeare setting was my favorite parts. Thanks to the publisher for a copy to review.  Will post on Amazon after publication.
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